Research of material waste of sound reproduction technology: new two-month online EMAP residency

KONTEJNER is welcoming Berlin based Canadian artist Darsha Hewitt as the 2021 EMAP resident. Her two-month online residency will focus on the second part of the sound-centric trilogy “High Fidelity Wasteland” that experiments with the material waste left over from generations of decomposing sound reproduction technology.

Photo: Irene Pérez Hernández


“High Fidelity Wasteland II: The Proto-Plastic Groove” recomposes alternate forms of sonic expression inhabiting shellac phonograph recordings. Spinning at 78 revolutions per minute, the precursor to the vinyl record was the first ever disk-shaped recording medium. Though shellac looks and behaves like any other plastic we know today, this dark resin is in fact an organic bioadhesive, excreted by the tree dwelling Lac beetle as a protective shelter for her offspring. Chemically similar to synthetic polymers, shellac is considered a natural form of plastic – one that was rapaciously harvested and commodified throughout the 20th century for the global music industry. Though produced on a massive scale, shellac records signify a short-lived transition the outset of our throwaway culture. This first iteration of “High Fidelity Wasteland II: The Proto-Plastic Groove” presents current electromechanical sound experiments, up-cycle prototypes and sculptural processes that release this hardened byproduct of insect survival into multi-material forms of sound and noise.

Material research and sculptural elements made in collaboration with sculptor Irene Pérez Hernández whose work challenges historical sculptural conventions by questioning materiality and form. Her works activate seemingly-mundane objects, placing them in circumstances that are alternately poignant and absurd, posing larger questions about power dynamics, autonomy, and modalities of cultural and material circulation.

The work is being realised within the framework of the EMAP/EMARE program at KONTEJNER co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union, Global Forest e.V., Deutsches Phonomuseum along with technical support by Alex Rex and Daniel Stigler.

EMAP – European Media Art Platform is a network of eleven European cultural institutions and organisations that annually offer productions grants to European artists working in the field of media art.

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